Gahhhh.. everyone who has been on social media at some point in the last 2 years will have heard the term ‘girl boss’. It’s promoted as a positive message, it’s promoted as ‘fashionable’, and it’s constantly promoted by young women looking for gratification for how hard they work.
Now, I do not blame these women for wanting to celebrate their hard work, absolutely not! Like go you gal, you achieve those dreams. However, what I am not a fan of, is this weird little illusion that all-of-a-sudden everyoneeeeee needs to be a ‘Girl Boss’.
Now, I have issues with this for 2 main reasons. Number one, what it promotes, and number two, the wording.
Let’s start with numero uno.
Rather than just promoting working hard, the term ‘Girl Boss’ seems to have evolved to mean actually running yourself into the ground. Take Sophia Amoruso’s below quote for example;
‘A Girl Boss is someone who has big dreams and is willing to work hard for them. So being a Girl Boss is really about being the boss of your own life. You don’t have to be the boss of anyone else to be a Girl Boss.’
It doesn’t just mean working hard, it means achieving your dreams and ‘being the boss of your own life’, whatever that means. I mean, let’s be honest, this kind of promotes freelancing/entrepreneurship, which is why the term is so rife within the blogging world.
And, I’ll admit, I’ve even used it before. But, it wasn’t until recently when I realised how problematic it really is.
Our generation promotes and encourages entrepreneurship and freelancing; which is great. However, it also sort-of promotes that the only way to truly ‘succeed’ is through being your own ‘boss’ and ‘being the boss of your own life’, and that’s not so great.
I mean, we can’t ALL be entrepreneurs, because that would just be ridiculous and the world would fail to function, literally. But, we are being taught to measure our worth on our ability to control our own lives, which is also a little sad.
The world of work involves working with people and for people, no matter what area you go into. Even as a freelancer or entrepreneur, there will be a point when you will have to work for someone at least once in your life. This doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in any way shape or form, but it means that you are a human with a job, congrats.
However, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a failure when you have to work for someone. It’s also very easy to become incredibly frustrated if you’re stuck in a job that you’re not particularly a fan of due to financial circumstances, and feel like you cannot release your full ‘Girl Boss’ potential.
And, do we need to make our own generation any more frustrated? Definitely not.
It paints the picture that this is an idyllic view of life, and the only way to be truly happy, which is a little sad for those of us who this is not possible for.
So, yeah, ‘Girl Boss’ comes with pretty problematic connotations for me, so there’s that.
Point two, the wording is just a little insulting. As a linguistics student, I’m not going to get all technical on you, nor am I going to let the feminist inside me out *too* much on this one, but it is insulting.
We all know that ‘girl’ holds connotations of being young and vulnerable, so contrasted with ‘boss’, this term seems a little strange.
Now, you may be screaming at your phone/laptop/tablet/whatever else you’re reading this on saying ‘THAT’S THE POINT”. I hear ya. The oxymoron is pretty nice.
But (and it’s a big one), why the f*ing hell do we need a term at all?!
As people who identify as women in the 21st century, why can’t we just be successful without having to label it? Can’t we just be a boss? Do we need to be reminded of our ‘vulnerability’ if we want to do so?
Why can’t we just be a ‘boss’?! Why can’t we just celebrate our successes without having to be reminded of the gender that we identify with?
Also, why can’t we just have a small success? Why must we be a ‘boss’ to actually reach success?
Honestly, this is exhausting.
I asked on twitter what thoughts you guys had on the term, and here are some of the responses:
I can’t quite put it into words why, but it makes me feel uncomfortable using it. I think it’s the “girl” bit seems dated, reminds me of “girl power” in the 90s which was cute when I was 6, but we’re “women” now. Why make us seem small?
— Kate (@Love_Kate_Blog) 21 May 2018
I think it’s an infantilizing term. If I’m the boss, then I’m the boss. No girl needed! Also the inventor of the term has a questionable history of treating her staff (such as firing pregnant women right before they went on maternity leave & fatshaming her employees).
— michelle 👩🏻💻🌼 (@michellelocke_) 16 May 2018
To me a “girl” is an immature woman and a “boss” is someone who is in authority! Apart from that – why are we referring to the gender of the boss in the first place???
— Ineke Poultney (@Inkyworld) 15 May 2018
So yeah, there’s my thoughts word-vomited onto a screen for your viewing pleasure. I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments, so feel free to leave me any thoughts that you may have!